Since July, HURRARC has recently received letters from postgraduate students in Holland, England and Germany who would like to work in Sierra Leone as interns.
They are examples of a new generation of anti-poverty campaigners – the many volunteers from all over the world, just like modern pilgrims, who are now visiting Sierra Leone (literally – Lion Mountain) and other African countries – who are dedicating a part of their lives to the cause of Peace and Freedom in Africa.
This includes the freedom from poverty, to help uplift millions of people in Africa and elsewhere out of the Slough of Despond, as John Bunyan, the writer of “Pilgrim’s Progress”, called the poverty of his own days.
September was an important month for Sierra Leone, as Irene Khan, the General Secretary of Amnesty International spent a week there last month to focus world attention on the country’s terrible mother and child death rate, one of the highest in the world.
This month, her new book on the struggle against poverty is being published. This raises for many African mothers and children the most basic of all human rights – the right to live. One in 8 Sierra Leone women dies in childbirth, and one in 5 Sierra Leone children die before the age of 5.
For many of its people, life in Sierra Leone is a survival course, and many people don’t survive it for long.
The main causes of the country’s death rate among expectant mothers and children appear at first sight to be simple to recognise – the almost complete lack of accessible, good quality prenatal health care in Sierra Leone; the disastrous underfunding of the country’s health service in general, and the chronic poverty that is omnipresent in a country that is still, despite the efforts of nearly 300 NGOs in Sierra Leone, at the bottom of the United Nations’ economic and human development indicators.
So when we‘re looking at the problem of corruption in Sierra Leone, we also need to bear in mind both the absolute nature of the country’s poverty, (and how much money the country would require to secure both economic growth, and the foundation of a welfare state); and the ongoing worldwide struggle against the phenomenon of corruption that has engulfed us all over the decades following the struggles of the 60s and 70s.
Sierra Leone, like Liberia, Rwanda, DR Congo, Sudan, Algeria and Somalia, has been recently a symbol of human suffering from war. This small and beautiful country is only six years on from a conflagration that engulfed it in bloodshed, cruelty and death for eleven years – a human experience more terrible than any earthquake anywhere within our lifetimes: especially so because the destruction was wrought by human beings.
In consequence, many human beings in Sierra Leone – having been forced to ask themselves what it is to be human in the face of so much inhumanity, are searching for a faith to live by.
The HURRARC – founded mainly by refugees from the civil war in Sierra Leone, at the outbreak of the war in 1992, seventeen years ago, have found a new faith: Human Rights’ Respect Awareness Campaigning – the meaning of the acronym “HURRARC” and have the same type of evangelical faith in human rights as the early black and white campaigners against slavery.
Human Rights for many Africans has become a basic survival question.
by George Charlie Wright,
HURRARC’s International Consultant, Turin, Italy